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Magic number: The 9 players with 4,000 pro hits

Norm Hall / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Ichiro Suzuki passed Pete Rose's major-league hit total Wednesday, when counting his Japanese hits in the total.

While that may not make him the sport's official hit king - as Rose himself said, if you're including Ichiro's Japanese hits then count his minor-league totals aswell - it's a remarkable achievement by one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game of baseball.

What Ichiro already had before Wednesday was membership into a very exclusive club: He's one of only nine players with over 4,000 pro hits across all levels of baseball.

The members of this list, besides Suzuki and Rose, include Hall of Famers as well as pioneers, well-traveled veterans, and one virtually unknown name. The 4,000 pro hits club isn't an official thing by any means, as numbers from some leagues are spotty at best, but it's a unique and noteworthy part of baseball lore.

Here's a look at the nine players who own 4,000 or more professional hits.

Note: For the purposes of this exercise, only regular-season hits are counted. Winter leagues are included in some cases.

Pete Rose

MLB hits: 4,256
Minor-league hits: 427
Total Hits: 4,683

Rose remains atop baseball's professional hits list thanks to both his major-league record total and his over 400 minor-league hits. He broke in with an 89-hit season for the Class-D Geneva Redlegs in 1960, earning his first big-league hit with the Reds in 1963, and notching No. 4,000 while a member of the Montreal Expos in 1984. One year later, he broke Ty Cobb's MLB record.

Ty Cobb

MLB hits: 4,189
Minor-league hits: 166
Total hits: 4,362

Baseball-Reference doesn't have statistics for Cobb's 1904 stint with Anniston in the Tennessee-Alabama League, which could add even more to his total. As it stands, Cobb only played two years in the minors - where he tore up the circuits - before joining the Tigers in 1905 and cementing his place in baseball history.

Ichiro Suzuki

MLB hits (through Thursday): 2,979
Pacific League (Japan) hits: 1,278
Total hits (through Thursday): 4,257

Ichiro's on pace to reach 3,000 hits in the majors before season's end, in his 16th MLB campaign. That's an incredible feat considering he didn't show up in Seattle until his age-27 season. Had he come to the United States earlier, perhaps he'd be officially closing in on Rose's major-league mark right about now.

Hank Aaron

MLB hits: 3,771
Minor-league hits: 324
Negro League hits: 41
Puerto Rico winter league hits: 84
Total hits: 4,220

Aaron, the last active major-leaguer to have played in the Negro Leagues, spent part of 1952 with the Indianapolis Clowns before the then-Boston Braves signed him.

Jigger Statz

MLB hits: 737
Minor-league hits: 3,356
Total hits: 4,093

The most anonymous member of this fraternity, Arnold John Statz - better known as "Jigger" - is the only man to get here solely based on his minor-league career. He played just eight years in the majors with four teams, with his best big-league season coming as a member of the Cubs in 1923. When not hanging on as a fringe big-leaguer, Statz was tearing up the Pacific Coast League. He spent 18 seasons with the PCL Los Angeles Angels and put up nine 200-hit seasons over that span, including an astounding 291 in 1926, on his way to 3,356 minor-league hits. He still holds several career PCL records and was a member of the league's inaugural Hall of Fame class in 1943.

Julio Franco

MLB hits: 2,586
Minor-league hits: 626
Pacific League (Japan) hits: 286
Mexican League hits: 358
Korea Baseball Organization hits: 156
United League (Independent) hits: 6
Total hits: 4,018
(Franco's hit totals from the Dominican winter leagues could not be confirmed)

The ageless Franco bounced around the world during a brilliant career that stretched from 1978-2008 and included two prolonged big-league stints. After his brief independent league appearance in 2014 at age 55 - at least, he said he was 55 - Franco wasn't done. In 2015, he served as player-manager for a semi-pro team in Japan. Sadly, those totals weren't confirmed either.

Minnie Minoso

MLB hits: 1,963
Minor-league hits: 429
Mexican League hits: 715
Cuban League hits: 838
Negro League hits: 128 (approximately)
Total hits: 4,073

Minoso likely lost some MLB years early on due to the color line, and was out of a regular job at the top level by age 35. He made up for the lost time by hitting in every league that would have him, from the majors with the White Sox and Indians, to winters in his native Cuba, to becoming a star in Mexico through age 47. His final professional hit came during a cameo appearance with the White Sox in 1976, at age 50.

Derek Jeter

MLB hits: 3,465
Minor-league hits: 554
Total hits: 4,019

Most of Jeter's work came in the Bronx, but "The Captain" also had a prolific minor-league career that included a 186-hit campaign across three levels in 1994. If we were to add in postseason totals, Jeter would have another 200 hits to his name. Now that's non-stop production.

Stan Musial

MLB hits: 3,630
Minor-league hits: 371
Total hits: 4,001

Musial squeaks on to the list, though he would have easily made it had he not sacrificed his age-24 season in 1945 to serve in World War II. "Stan the Man" was consistent and even in his production. At the major-league level, he recorded 1,815 hits at home, and 1,815 on the road. He did start off slow, with just 16 hits in 1938, his first pro season, but there was good reason for this. Musial actually started his career as a pitcher.

The missing two

Two Hall of Famers, Sam Crawford and Jake Beckley, are thought to have also reached the 4,000-hit mark. Unfortunately, statistics from some of their minor-league seasons are missing, leaving them shy of officially joining the list. For what it's worth, Baseball-Reference credits Crawford with approximately 3,824 pro hits (2,961 in MLB), while Beckley is given 3,836 across all levels (2,934 in MLB).

(With special thanks to Baseball-Reference Bullpen, Mark Aubrey, and SABR's Scott Simkus)

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